Being in a leadership position can test your communication skills. You have to be able to connect with others, so you can work together to reach your common goals.
If you think you may need some help in this area, you have plenty of company. Almost 57% of employees report being given inadequate directions, and 69% of managers say they’re uncomfortable communicating with employees in general, according to HR Technologist.
With practice and effort, you can turn this situation around. Study this quick guide to essential communication skills that leaders need.
- Plan ahead. Before you speak, take time to reflect. Know your purpose, so you can develop strategies and systems that match your values. Be sure to choose appropriate times and channels for what you have to say.
- Simplify your message. Your employees may feel inundated with too much information. Consider using quick graphics to replace a long speech. Format your emails and memos with bullets and headlines to make them easier to read.
- Stay in touch. Provide frequent opportunities for updates and discussions. Schedule staff meetings and one-on-ones. Publish a staff newsletter. Make yourself visible and approachable.
- Tell stories. A compelling anecdote can inspire your team and unite them around a common mission. Build a plot around one or two main points. Focus on concrete examples and emotional appeal.
- Pay attention. How observant are you? Being aware of your surroundings will help you keep up with informal conversations and nonverbal cues.
- Ask questions. If you want to know what your team is thinking, go straight to the source. Ask open ended questions that give others the chance to elaborate on their responses. Avoid biased wording that could influence their answers.
- Welcome feedback. Encourage your team to let you know how they think you’re doing. Thank them for their honest and constructive input and use it to enhance your performance. When possible, hold meetings to invite their input before making decisions and collaborate on making action plans.
- Let go of judgements. What’s the difference between hearing and listening? As a leader, it’s important to use your mind as well as your ears. Let others finish what they’re saying without interrupting them or thinking about your response. Try to put yourself in their position.
Other Communication Tips for Leaders:
- Be inclusive. Diverse organizations need leaders who can relate to a wide variety of audiences and create an atmosphere where each team member is valued and respected. That means building real relationships and recognizing individual and group contributions.
- Show empathy. Authentic connections depend on caring about the needs of others and being able to understand their thoughts and feelings. Developing a culture of empathy also promotes helpful behaviors and cooperation.
- Follow through. Actions really do speak louder than words. In order to earn trust, it’s important to lead by example. Deliver on your promises and ensure that your actions are consistent with what you say.
- Resolve conflicts. Effective communications can promote harmony, but some disagreements are to be expected. Stay calm and search for mutually beneficial solutions.
- Master technology. Keep your computer skills up to date so you can communicate online and off. Video calls and other tools are likely to remain popular in a climate of remote and hybrid work.
Successful leaders know how to use their communication skills to build trust and motivate others. Expressing yourself with clarity and compassion can help you to develop strong work relationships and guide your team to success.